By Neil Anderson
“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
If you attend a Christian fellowship where prophecies are part of public worship, I wonder if we should expect from God generic messages like, “I love you, My children” or “I’m coming soon.” These statements are certainly true, but why would they need to be prophesied, since the Bible already clearly asserts God’s love and Christ’s imminent return? I have heard “prophecies” like these given in churches where many people were living in sin, lulling them into an unrighteous complacency.
The voice of a prophet is a consuming fire and a shattering hammer. A prophetic message should motivate people to righteousness, not placate them in their sin (1 Peter 4:17). God is more concerned about church purity than about church growth. Comfort only comes to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake by allowing God’s Word to purge their sin and shatter their self-centeredness.
Jeremiah relates two other evidences of false prophets: “‘Behold, I am against the prophets,’ declares the LORD, ‘who steal My words from each other'” (23:30). That’s plagiarism: taking what God gave someone else and using it as if it were your own. “‘I am against the prophets,’ declares the LORD, ‘who use their tongues and declare, “the Lord declares”‘” (verse 31).
Declaring that what you are saying is directly from the Lord when it isn’t is an incredible offense to God. If God wants me to know something He will tell me directly. I believe in the priesthood of believers; however, God can and will encourage us and confirm His Word to us through others. “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). If someone says to you “God told me to tell you . . .” that person may be functioning as a medium. The gift of prophecy should reveal the secrets of the heart so people will fall on their faces and worship God (1 Corinthians 14:25). Then God will guide them by His Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Lord, teach me not to quench Your Spirit nor to despise prophetic utterances but to examine everything and hold fast to what is good.